For the last several years, Talladega (Ala.) has been considered the big wild car in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. There’s at least a second wild card this year — Kansas Speedway. Kansas is the site of round six in the Chase, Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.
Why is Kansas such the wild card this go-around? Because it was recently repaved. Sunday’s race will mark the first Sprint Cup event on the new surface. Because of the unknowns the new surface has the potential to bring, NASCAR allowed for extra practice Wednesday and Thursday.
“I look at it as a new race track,” Chaser Jeff Gordon said. “We don’t think of it from any notes that we had from this track in the past. We pretty much just start from scratch. It’s like going to a brand new race track somewhere else. It looks completely different than it ever did before.”
The practice, or test, included not only 2012 cars that are expected to be on the track come Sunday, but also a handful of 2013 models in preparation for next year.
Practice speeds throughout the two days were fast, compared to the Kansas of old. As a matter-of-fact, 30 of the 47 cars that tested on the first day posted speeds faster than the current track qualifying record.
“We’re having fun out there, going really fast and having a lot of grip and testing and trying a lot of new things,” Gordon said. “That part of it is very interesting and fun.”
The entire two days of testing, or extra practice, wasn’t completely fun for everyone. Denny Hamlin hit the wall hard on Thursday and made a trip to a local hospital where he was treated and released.
Below, is a rundown of fast laps posted on Thursday: